TV stations saving money by sharing content

It costs a lot of money to keep a television outside broadcasting unit on the road, waiting for something newsworthy to happen. So with advertising revenue drying up, thanks to dropping TV audiences, TV stations will do anything to cut costs – including using the same content as their competitors!

A fair few locals watching the TV news broadcast

I found the first example a few years ago – “Australian Traffic Network“:

ATN is the Australian division of The Global Traffic Network, which is the leading provider of custom traffic reports to radio and television stations.

They supply traffic news reports from their own fleet of helicopters.

Siemens train crosses the Cremorne railway bridge, with peak hour traffic grinding along the Monash Freeway

To virtually every TV and radio station in Melbourne.

Traffic from The Australian Traffic Network.
TV: Nine Today, Seven Sunrise & TEN News

But I discovered a new shared content source the other month – “Night Shooters Melbourne“.

Filming a news piece outside the Melbourne Magistrates Court

They do the night shift for Melbourne’s TV stations.

We are the official vision provider to all the networks in Melbourne. From the hours of 8pm to 6am 365 days a year we are covering all the breaking news stories around Melbourne. On this site you will see exclusive behind the scene access from the crew. We are more often then not the first people on scene. We will never show the footage we shoot for 7 News Melbourne, 9 News Melbourne, 10 News Melbourne and ABC Melbourne. The vision you see will be from the crews smartphones.

Giving the big name news reporters a good night sleep.

But it’s nothing new

Stringer‘ is the industry lingo for a freelancer not tied to a particular media outlet:

A stringer is a freelance journalist, photographer, or videographer who contributes reports, photos, or videos to a news organisation on an ongoing basis but is paid individually for each piece of published or broadcast work.

As freelancers, stringers do not receive a regular salary and the amount and type of work is typically voluntary. However, stringers often have an ongoing relationship with one or more news organisations, to which they provide content on particular topics or locations when the opportunities arise.

But it’s getting bigger

In 2012 the New York Times revealed the growing content sharing phenomenon in the USA market:

Call a reporter at the CBS television station here, and it might be an anchor for the NBC station who calls back. Or it might be the news director who runs both stations’ news operations.

The stations here compete for viewers, but they cooperate in gathering the news — maintaining technically separate ownership, but sharing office space, news video and even the scripts written for their nightly news anchors.

That is why viewers see the same segments on car accidents, the same interviews with local politicians, the same high school sports highlights.

With the Pew Research Center report Acquisitions and Content Sharing Shapes Local TV News in 2013 examined it further.

Stations owned by the same company now routinely share news content regionally or groupwide. In some of the largest markets, local news services produce coverage for two or more competing stations. And more than three-quarters of local TV stations say they share news content with other media, including radio stations and newspapers, according to the most recent survey by the Radio Television Digital News Association.

The economic benefits of station consolidation are indisputable and include the increase in retransmission fees paid to station owners and the boost in stock prices of companies on buying sprees. But the effect on the quality of news coverage consumers receive is far more complicated to assess.

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7 Responses to “TV stations saving money by sharing content”

  1. Daniel says:

    These days, with resources sometimes thin on the ground, it’s not uncommon when multiple networks cover a big story for them to share out the interviews so they don’t all have crews traipsing all over town. So you even for daytime events you might see the same camera angle shooting the same interviewees on multiple channels.

  2. Andrew says:

    I don’t have a big problem with the sharing. Someone once showed me on a desktop a site where you could see all the news footage being uploaded to tv stations. That was quite some time ago. I am not sure if it just weekends but of late I have heard ABC Melbourne refer to something like the Melbourne Traffic Centre and not ATN.

  3. albert3801 says:

    It’s called syndication and has always been happening in one way or another.

  4. Daniel says:

    Listening to ABC Melbourne this afternoon, their traffic+train reports have been from someone at the Department of Transport.

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